And the loser is

The scab on my right cheek, directly below my eye, is my reason for flying home. It's small, but rough, and makes my face appear overly flushed; in the past few months I've been speculatively diagnosed with: rosatia, lupus, and shame. None of these are correct. What we have here, my friends, is an Actinic Keratosis, a precancerous spot that is the result of chronic sun exposure. A gift from the Rotarua, New Zealand, under whose ozone-free skies I basked, sunscreen free, for three scorching months when I was 16.

I can identify the actinic keratosis because this is not my first. Happily, they're easy (if not pleasant) to get rid of.  They burn off with a little liquid nitrogen, it takes ten seconds. I could do it myself with dry ice, if I had the balls.

But, thanks to the way of the health insurance world, I have to fly back to Vermont for the 'procedure'.

It's alright. I love it there.

I wake up at 7am Eastern time, which is 4am Seattle time, which is The Wrong Time To Be Alive in Melina time. An hour later I'm at the health center in Woodstock, coughing into my sleeve in the waiting room, trying to make myself unrecognizable so I don't have to acknowledge the presence of my high school history teacher who is sitting four chairs away. I have two appointments set up.

First thing in the morning and they're running forty minutes behind. It's alright. When they call my name I sit by the window in a red-upholstered chair, resting my face in my hands. My doctor ticks away at the list on the computer screen, writes the scripts for another round of migraine medicine, a second kind of migraine medicine, migraine preventatives, anxiety pills, sleeping pills. Warheads, licorice bits, anise drops, root beer barrels, peppermints.

To pass the time between appointments, I take a walk into the village of Woodstock. My beautiful, idyllic town is wintered in- dark and sparse and ice-brittle. The coffee shop I loved so much, the one owned by Mary Urban, my high school classmate, is gone. The Manhattan landlord jacked up the rent and sent the little business toppling, and now the space sits vacant. Now nobody is getting anything out of the space. Allechante, the one other coffee shop in the town, left after Christmas, nobody is quite sure why. A new place has taken over, and from the instant I walk in I know it's not going to last through the summer. Not in this town. It's got clunky furniture and mismatched decor, but it falls short of the country charm it's aiming for. I order coffee but my stomach turns rudely at the sight of it. I go outside, hold onto a granite hitching post and cough my brains out. I tell myself it's just the dry air.

"I'm sorry I'm late," says the dermatologist as he opens the door to the room where I've been sitting, heals banging against the metal table, for forty five minutes.
"It's alright," I tell him.
"No," he says, looking me in the eye. "It's not." He can't be more than 29 years old and he sighs like an old man. Cutting the small talk, he pulls out a metal spray gun. "Liquid nitrogen. -197 degrees Fahrenheit." He says this like I should be impressed. Which I am, sort of. The gun is aimed a half inch below my eye.  "This will sting." He pulls the trigger.

He's blasted me twice when a voice comes over the intercom. "Would the owner of a blue Subaru outback please come to the front desk."

That's my car. Of course it's my car. The dermatologist man tells me we're not done, but he'll wait. He's quite nice, actually.

My right eye is starting to swell as I walk to the front of the clinic, where I find an older woman talking to the receptionist, visibly agitated, ringing her hands like a stage actress.

"Is that your car?" She asks, gesturing towards the parking lot. "I just hit it. I just backed right up into your car."
"Oh," I say, peering outside. "It's alright. It's probably just this weather. Slippery."
"Nope," says the lady. "I really wasn't looking."
She takes me outside, shows me the damage. It's barely anything. The frozen air gnaws at the burned spot on my skin.
"It's alright." I say again.
"What can I give you?"
"I want to give you a hug."
"That's alright."

Back at the room, the dermatologist is staring out the window, still holding the blast gun. "If you don't mind," he says as I walk in, "I'd like to blast you one last time."

Bronchitis is unfurling like a fiddle-head in my lungs as I walk from the clinic back into town. For the past few weeks it has lived deep in my lungs, curled up asleep but still present. Now it's coming awake again, stretching and rattling around the ribcage. I bend at the waist and cough. At the pharmacy, I buy bottles of ruby cough syrup and ask for my prescriptions. The lady hands me one orange bottle of pills and begins to ring me up.

"I'm sorry but- I should have a few more than this."

"Hmm...let's see..." This woman has worked at the pharmacy since before time. She knows everything I've ever been on. "I see your Imitrex, Celexa, your...Sorry but, your insurance won't let you fill these for another thirty days.

"But-" I stutter, "I haven't refilled those for months-" I stop. It's a losing battle.

"Would you like to speak to the pharmacist?" She asks politely. Through the cut out window, I can see Jim, white haired and mustached, frowning as he counts out rows of pills.

"It's alright." I say. Jim is my neighbor out in Pomfret, as close as neighbors come in Vermont. We like to discuss gardening when I come by in the summer. He's such a nice man. But son, his only child, recently died of a drug overdose, and now I don't know what to say to him.
"It's alright." I pull out my wallet. "I'll just take these."

When I get home, the three dogs are barking and levitating, hoping for a walk. I fall back into bed. Hometeam crawls under the covers with me, collapses her little body against mine. For nine out of the ten days I'm in Vermont, I'm sick. I lie in bed; when I'm not asleep, I study the ceiling. I take the dogs for two walks a day around our property, through deep snow and over hard packed snow mobile tracks. I feel okay during those walks. Relieved, calm, cleaned out by the pure air. The other hours of the day and night, I feel terrible. My mom, home from work for my visit, is visibly heartbroken. But then she gets a migraine. For days. Her migraines make my migraines look like bug bites.

Spring is a long way off. We lie in our beds.

Twenty-Two Hours

On the plane to Boston, the woman on my left keeps punching me. She'll be sleeping soundly one moment, and in the next her body spasms and she throws her arms out to either side, one into the aisle, one into my rib cage. "Night terrors," she explains, chuckling. "Feel free to clock me right back!" I smile, turn deliberately back to my magazine. In some strange show of rebellion against my own common sense, I've bought $20 worth of magazines for the flight.

The woman dozes off again. She's a big lady, wearing clunky sandals over white cotton socks. There are a few moments of peace: she sleeps, I read, until we hit a little bump in the atmosphere and she startles again, punching me in the gut. "Oh, sorry!!" She exclaims, straightening in her seat, smoothing her skirt with her hands. I expect her to close her eyes and return to her terrors, but she doesn't. Instead, she rotates her body, turns her head to the side and studies me like a good natured auntie. Under her plump, matronly gaze, I feel my face redden as I turn the pages of Cosmo's Are You Ready for Kink cover feature.  I wish I was able to just go on reading in the face of her eavesdropping, like some slightly skewed show of 21st century feminism, but I'm not. I close the magazine and shove it into the seat back, trying to seem casual, and reach under the seat to pull out a box of pizza. "Oh, wow!" she says, genuinely impressed. "You just pulled out a pizza box from under your seat! Now I've seen everything!"

The woman to my right, lucky bitch in the blessed window seat, dutifully ignores the both of us.


Boston is hard as ice.  Mid-March is a monstrous time to come home to New England, yet year after year I return. In high school and college it was the ill-timed spring break; now it's just out of habit. Spring is still months away in this part of the country, buried under three feet of defiant, black rimmed, gritty snow that will cut you like a razor if you lose your footing.

I've just missed the 4:30 bus back to Vermont and have two hours to wait until the next one. It doesn't bother me; I've just flown across the entire continent in slightly over four hours, which is so ludicrously fast it feels like cheating. I park myself at the bar in Legal sea foods, order a cocktail I really think I want. It arrives syrupy, so sweet it feels like it's burning holes in my esophagus. I send it back for a beer. The bar tender eyes me with obvious annoyance, but he obliges. An older man approaches me, business suit and a Bluetooth, and wants to talk to me about my tattoo. I tell him politely to leave me alone. He shrugs, walks off.

With twenty minutes until the bus (I am fastidiously timely when I travel- only when I travel-) I lope out to the lower level of Logan airport, terminal C, and lower myself on the one portion of a bench that is not covered in spilled, gelatinous coke. I throw my feet over my backpack and open the magazine again, finally, grateful of my anonymity.

Cosmo suggests one watches Lady Gaga's music video Alejandro to gauge one's comfort level with moderate levels of Kink.

The feathery grey twilight slips away, and the cold takes a more definite stance in the air. I look up hopefully with every loud, steaming commuter bus that pulls up in front of me:  Concord, Framingham, Manchester, Cape Cod. One by one, drivers hop out to the curb and call out the destinations with caustic Boston accents. Manchetsta- Con'cud. The people around me climb on board and head off to different corners of New England.

My bus is late- first by twenty minutes, then by an hour, then by two. The Dartmouth Coach has never been late, ever, to my knowledge. I have to go to the bathroom, so badly, it's like being a little kid again. But I can't go. I can't risk being absent during the twenty seconds when the bus arrives. I give up waiting on the bench, it's below freezing now, and snowing. Inside the sliding glass doors, others bound for Vermont wait in silence. Stoic New Englanders, they just stand there, waiting. The bus will get here when it does. Even the kids stand there, hands on tiny wheeled suit cases, faces slack.

When it finally arrives, two drivers hop out. "Sorry folks!" one shouts. "This is Chahlie. Chalie's bus broke down, folks. He had to jump on mine. Don't blame me about this, it's not my fault." Then, after a considerable pause- "It's not Chahlie's fault eitha'."

As we drive North, the snowstorm gets heavier. We crawl along in the left lane and I rest my cheek against the cold glass, road vibrations bumping me into a trance. No one is speaking. All that can be heard is the steady sweep sweep sweep of wiper blades against the windshield. The world outside is thick with snowflakes and unrecognizable: somewhere between Boston and Lebanon, New Hampshire. All I know, is that every minute takes me some place closer to home than I was the minute before.

Essay on Everything (3)

[find your bearings. hang up your coat. stay for a little while.]

In your respective city far away from the place you were raised, you are a floating point. A dot amongst thousands of other dots working very hard to grab on and hold on. That's how I've felt lately. Like a little dot. A little point that keeps trying and trying but, like an archaic computer game, keeps getting deflected off of walls.

This is all that they see. A little dot with not enough management experience to take the 90k a year job they hung out before me for three months like a carrot. And after three months of interviews they turned me away with the flick of their wrist.

A little dot who is not pretty enough, or thin enough, is not enough.

After a while it starts to get to you. Each morning you wake up and run your hands up and down your body. I'm sure I have dimensions. I can feel them. But I must be wrong. They know better than I do. Little by little, I lose my dimension and my orientation. The space that I take up begins to diminish. I start to bounce around off of walls.

I'm a total heathen, with very little interest in thinking, researching, even discussing or the idea of God. I'd rather discuss books, or the weather, or anything really, with the exception of sports teams. Such little dialog I've had with 'God' that I know, should by some great trick it turns out he's been there all along, I'll show up at the finish line and he'll be there with his great Book and he'll look at me and say, "And who are you?" And then, after a  pause- "I'm sorry, but I just can't place you."

Despite this, when one is a bouncing little dot, or feels, at any rate, that they have been reduced to this, one does begin to question what the point of it it all is.

At first the soft, deep powder of the backyard was bearable on bare feet, a refreshing sting, but the packed-down crust of the driveway was torture. We exploded back in through the door and dashed back to the stove where we hopped back and forth from leg to leg, laughing a sort of crying laugh. Just as the blood was beginning to drain away from our feet, Teal's husband Mark, a solid Bostonian with a heavy New England Accent and tattoos running up his arm, decided to have another lap. The rest of them soon followed. Everyone but me. I have frostbite scars. I'm Chicken Shit. However you want to spell it out.  I stayed put.

They returned howling.



You are so much more than a little point. You are a long ribbon of color and light. You have been here for a while now, and you will keep going like this, unwinding and unwinding. The trick is to be find the people and the occasions who can recognize this. (And get rid of the rest.)


Listen, I know what you're thinking. But there is a difference in those who think that life is built for our pleasure and convenience and joy, and those who know that with any sort of joy there is equal parts suffering. Everyone in that beautiful house on that perfect night was familiar, some intimately so, with wrecking tragedy. The kind that saves us from melting into the delusion that everything in life is clean and pretty, or that we are entitled. To anything. The pieces of that tragedy have been lodged inside my body ever since, keeping me wildly alert, hyper-questioning and unwilling to accept anything at face value. 

So when I start to think about it, this is the only conclusion I can draw:

That the whole of life is a mystery. A hard, complicated mystery.

But if nights like this are the height of what the whole world can provide, in my lifetime- if this is all I ever get in terms of answers regarding purpose and intention and fulfillment- then I'll settle for that. I'll settle for that gratefully.

Essay on Everything (2)

[that all sounds like a very good time]

I stepped out of the car onto the driveway, and looked up at the house in disbelief. It was a big, classic Vermont farmhouse, a main house attached to a smaller house. (We used to sing a song in elementary school about such houses that was called "Big house middle house back house barn." I don't remember much about the rest of the lyrics but I'm sure they were equally thrilling.) The house was well lit from the inside and just a few steps away from the road, which in New England means it must have been very old.

During my near-decade of on and off (but mostly on) living in Seattle, I'd been suckered into the thinking that if you dared commit to and make a life out of art or creativity, you'd be committing financial suicide.  If you didn't work 60 hours a week for the holy trilogy of employment- Amazon, Microsoft of Boeing, than you'd better get used to working a host of food service and child care jobs just to pay the rent on your interstate-adjacent grey carpeted apartment.

Both Grace and Evan are professional potters, and very talented ones.  One of the very few things that I brought out with me to the West coast that I still have today is a mug that Grace made, her signature etched into the bottom. She'd given it to me as a graduation present. It's gorgeous and I could only imagine what an additional nine years has done to her work. Still, I was awed that they were able to live, with a six month old baby, in the kind of house that I'd decided was completely unobtainable if I was going to try this writing thing.  (Unless I lived as a kept woman. Which I'll admit right now, I have given some thought to.)

 Nate, Emma, Shane and I stepped inside into a flood of lamplight which bounced into the corners of the spacious front room and illuminated the dark wooden beams of the ceiling.  I greeted Grace and Evan and immediately remarked on the beauty and size of the house. They both raised their eyebrows in bemusement. "We've been working on it nonstop," said Evan. "You should have seen it when we first got it."

I spotted Joanna, Grace's little sister who is one year older than me, standing by the stove in a dress and a long sweater. Joanna and I were best friends through high school. She was my first hiking partner. We used to go up to the White Mountains in wool sweaters and hand-me down long underwear. She went to college for glass blowing and photography and got engaged and I hadn't ever even seen her ring. When I saw her now from across the room, I ran into her full speed, knocked her on the couch with the force of a linebacker. (I like friendship, particularly of the long-lost variety, to be a very physical thing.)

She took me into the  kitchen, in the beginning, plaster and sheets state of renovation, and poured us each a huge glass of white wine. Then she gave me a tour of the house, up the steep,  narrow stair case leading up to Elias's room. A master bedroom with a tall window that we both agreed was a photographer's dream.

The whole place was a photographer's dream, especially with  baby Elias being passed around from person to person like a football. A very good natured football in little courdaroys and a small wool sweater.

Evan fed the stove and more friends arrived in a flurry of activity. I mostly sat on the couch and watched and drank wine. I used to melt into the background like this when I was younger. Because my parents worked outside of Vermont,  my sister and I lived alone together for the majority of each week. That meant that wherever Anna went, I went. She is four years older than me. There was a lot of late night, winter driving, dark sledding hills, warm living rooms just like this only we were all more than a decade younger. And I'd sit there and feel lucky, wide eyed and eager to make idols out of all of them. (I blush to think of myself back then, those early teenage years, flat chested and more than a bit compulsive, taking myself quite seriously. Thankfully, most of these things have settled themselves out with time, including, thank god, the flat chest. By the time the braces came off at, what was it, 15, maybe a bit younger, I can safely say that the elements of irony and humor had began to appear on my periodic table of being. )

We did a lot of theater and performing and touring around New Engalnd. We were all incredibly dramatic. Everything was a production in one way or another.  I've always found that certain things come easier to me than to others. Things involving interacting with people. Social things. Choosing exactly who to be at exactly what time and occaion.)  I can trace it back those years. And having excellent role models. They were such good sports.

 Things started to swirl together as I got lightly drunk very quickly. Next thing I knew I was back in my coat and mittens and running with Nate up a steep driveway, both of us nearly breathless, the rest of the group on our heals. The snow had a dry, grainy quality to it, useless for snowballs or other such weaponry but perfect for speed.  The air was so warm that it had a certain, spring-like viscosity to it;  it felt as if you could tilt back your chin and swim upwards into the millions of stars above.

Using only the thin light of stars and headlamps, we sled down the hill one after another, running back up for another run with the sudden energy of six year olds. We doubled up in sleds and raced each other, usually ending in the ditch, off of the bank or in violent collisions cushioned by down and wool. To start us off, runners put hands on shoulders and ran, pushing us until they couldn't keep up and were face down in the snow.

One by one people got spent and wet and cold until just a few of us remained up on the hill.

Shane dared us to race down the steep bank which was heavily forested and tangled with sharp dead blackberry shrubs. I was lying on a sled on my back and told him that he was just asking to have a "smash-up," as Edith Wharton put it, just like Ethan Frome. But I told him and Nate that I'd race them anyway. They said ONE TWO THREE and took off down the bank into the trees. I continued to lay there on my back, unmoving. I heard a shhhhhsss of plastic picking up speed, then a Thunk! and a shout. I skated down on my stomach to find the two brothers in a pile, twisted up, laughing, Shane bleeding from the mouth. They'd managed to go five whole feet, missing the trees but colliding with each other.

That was the end of the sledding. We limped back to the house and found the others, waiting barefoot around the stove, ready for the traditional new years barefoot run. I'd never heard of such a tradition but I knew that my feet, badly scarred from frostbite, could suffer some heavy damage through direct exposure to snow.
I took off my ridiculously insulated mountaineering boots and the expensive wool socks my parents had kept me supplied with for the past decade since the I got lost, and ran out the door with the rest of them.

Snow on Snow on Snow

The blizzard of 2010 has finally reached our doorstep. We waited all day for it, hesitant to leave the hill, recalibrating travel plans as airports shut down and roads were closed in the cities, telling the kids that tomorrow the sledding would be epic. The fields and sky were slate-grey, the temperature dropped and the cloud blanked sky kept promising snow...and holding out....and promising....and holding out....Until finally, after the dinner dishes were put away, fat white feathers began to sift down from the night sky. And I have to say, if we're going to be snowed in somewhere, this is a pretty good place to be.

The temperature is inching down the thermometer. It's very, very cozy here and maybe just maybe a little bit claustrophobic. In such close quarters,  completely sequestered from the rest of the world, everyone has become very particular about such things as their new Christmas presents.  Everything will be humming along fine and then someone will put their feet into a new pair of sheepskin slippers, prompting a howl from across the room: "ARE YOU WEARING MY NEW SLIPPERS? TAKE! THOSE! OFF! NOW!" And then the offender will take a lap around the room and shout back:" NO! LAY OFF! ITS NOT LIKE I'M GOING TO BREAK THEM!" Which is met with "YOU WON'T BREAK THEM YOU'LL JUST MAKE THEM DISGUSTING!" Meanwhile, dinner continues and nobody else pays attention until someone reaches a hand to touch their new thing. But above all, it's nice and cozy. We're like mice up here, tucked away in a little house. And the daily hikes we take around the property do help to chill everyone out. 

It's amazing that I'm here during this storm. I'm not stranded in an airport or a train station or the side of a road or the house of a friend whose company I find annoying. Thousands of flights are canceled to and from the North East, JFK airport and Amtrak shut down completely, and Maine and Massachusetts went ahead and declared a state of emergency. And we're here. I'm almost choking on my good luck. Not to rub it in to my friends in transit (sorry, Zach, Fozz, should have stayed on the hill!) but it doesn't feel too much like an emergency here in Vermont. Of course, I could be eating my words very shortly. We shall see. But for now...
Dude, do you see my dog in this photo? Amazing.

I just got up to feed the stove one last time before I go to bed. I'm always the last one up. We were out of wood so I went to the barn to get some more, and when I opened the door I was confronted by a chaos of huge snowflakes. It's 1 degree out, the snappy sort of cold that goes right up your nose. Someone else can wake up early to keep the stove going and I'm going to sleep in till eleven, when my Cousin Margaret is coming down from the upper house to make candy. We made marshmallows today by hand which have to sit over night, and tomorrow we're going to cover them with caramel. MAYBE. IF THE SNOW FLAKES DO NOT KILL US TONIGHT THAT IS.

And because I never get to put pictures of kids on this blog, and seriously some blogs out there are only pictures of kids, they are not very good or interesting. But I'm entitled to a few pictures of a few kids, right? And really, these kids are top-notch.

And speaking of top notch....

I'm quite fond of this series, me dropping some life knowledge on the boys, something that is obviously just intensely hilarious. Although Brooks was apparently asleep. 
I love how we all look related in this photo

 Alright, going to sleep with high hopes of a snow monstrosity. I do look forward to getting back to Seattle and resuming life and getting back to the climbing gym. I really do. But if we are forced to stay in Vermont for a little longer, that's okay too. I'm halfway through the latest Krakaur book and I'm in no hurry to leave. 

Little Tiny Pieces

I woke up and I was back up North. It was startling. Finely sifted snow is on the ground and even though there are only a few inches so far, it makes for some seriously rip-shit fast sledding. I've been so, so, so busy and the relationship between my computer and my camera really disintegrated, I'm not sure how or when or who is to blame. I can take a thousand photos, load them all and be able to view them, but they can't be uploaded to the Internet, printed, or edited. Well that's not true- a few arbitrary photos are workable, they are completely random and I do not have a choice which ones will be successful. In a way, since I can't select the 'perfect' photos, it actually produces a more realistic view of the last few days. That, plus the intensely slow Internet here, and, get what you get.

 My best friend from high school, Sophia, and her fiance Jenny went over to Castleton Vermont to see our other best friend, Elissa. This diner was a neon-green gem that offered blueberry, cherry, blackberry, butterscotch, chocolate cream, banana cream, razzleberry, peanut butter and apple pie. All of those. Liss and I both went for the grand slam, the Patriarch of all diner pie slices...coconut cream. (I finally found a friend who can keep up with me at a meal, now that she's 9 months pregnant....)

 Our whole extended family still lives on this land in Vermont, and my generation still gathers here for Christmas, and I still have a dog, and it's grand.  
So far, there have been a lot of visitors. Friends driving up from New Hampshire and Boston and from just down the road. We've read stacks of christmas books to Jen and Rob's four year old twins, and I met Kerry and Sam's tiny four month old daughter for the first time. We've cooked lots and lots of food and baked ridiculous things like peppermint whoopie pies and gone for long, snowy hikes through the acres and acres of bare forest. But you're not allowed to see any of that, because my computer won't let you. I will show you this instead, a picture of some beer.  There has been a lot of Windsor Vermont's Harpoon Brewery beer consumed. And the electronic world deems this is more important that anything else.
And that's about all we have time for now, as we gear up for Christmas day. My family is totally secular. But we go seriously ape shit for Christmas. There's no other way to put it. And to answer the nice emails I've been getting- the blog will be back. The last two weeks of Seattle were nutso, stories to come, and I had to take a totally unanticipated but apparently completely essential vacation.  

Wherever you are, I hope you have something as entertaining and seasonal as a Christmas at the New Yorker Anthology, and little cousins to run around and knock over your glass of beer.

Outstanding minds of the well traveled and overly clever

Up here in the the season is starting to turn. The slowest red flames engulf the trees and things under your feet begin to crunch. I was fifteen when I met my friend from Israel, in the breakfast line at our boarding school. Somebody came up and gave him a package from home which was addressed in squiggles. I looked up at him and said, "But you don't have an accent." It was the beginning of the semester, this time exactly, when the light travels from straight up to sideways.

And ten years later here he is to take in the last of summer with me. Yonton is a good boater and a good business man but even better, he knows books. He can read them backward and forward. Two years ago I had time to kill during a very stinging winter. In the mornings I waited tables and hid from the beer delivery man who would always try and bite me on the ear. In the evenings I'd sit in front of the wood stove, poking at the logs with an iron poker and listening to Yonton read out loud over the phone. We share a love for Foer, Helprin, Murakami, Keret. He introduced me to a book called The Nimrod Flip-Out and tries to explain Hebrew double-entendres as I scratch my head and say, "wait, what?"

On his recent trip to Vermont we fought over lyrics, dreamt of stardom, debated pop music and went over yet again what a bad speller I am. We went out to a movie and then sat at a bar and I got all woozy off a shirley temple, played it off like I was drunk. We scribbled down ideas and rhymes into my gold-lined notebook from Bar Harbor that I keep in the glove compartment. And, of course, we went outside and looked around.

Yonton lives in the searing, overly crowded, garbage strewn, crime ridden, run down, decrepit city of Asheville, North Carolina. I believe he needed this rural getaway just as much as I needed someone to play with.

When we hiked to the top of Dear's Leap near Killington, we looked across at Pico ski resort and spotted the curving alpine slide that runs down the entire face of the mountain. We sprinted down the trail and bought an endless pass and split the rest of the afternoon between chairlift riding and full throttle-ing it down the slide.

So here's to decade of friendship to the boy who has introduced me to: the chocolate lounge, The Mighty Boosh, extreme buoyancy, the sublimely botched English of Everything is Illuminated, Israeli short stories, central park bouldering, and much more.

No, maybe that's it.

I think of you every time I wet-exit or read.

feeding Seth

On Sunday evening, my friend Seth called me from upstate. He was standing in the driving rain beneath the awning of a Sunoco station in a town up North. I had not seen him for years. I knew him because I use to date his delightfully maniacal brother, but Seth and I were friends in our own right. And now he was biking across the country, from Seattle to the Atlantic, and his gear cable had broken outside of Montpelier. I put down the phone when I heard this, flew to the car and drove with the wipers slashing sheets of rain off of the windshield. It was completely dark, and in the rain the interstate felt like a tunnel. An hour North on the interstate and a few miles of state route and there he was, leaning against the wall of the closed up gas station with his bike beside him, my friend from another life. With a beard.

I spent the better part of his visit feeding him. Cooking for Seth was like an extreme sport. As I cooked him bacon and a dozen eggs for breakfast in the morning, he plowed through an entire huge loaf of bread, carefully toasting each piece and taking a jar of jam and a stick of butter down with it. We made chicken pot pie and corn chowder, thai peanut sauce with rice noodles, pasta with a sauce that cooked on the stove all day. We ate peach rhubarb pie and Ben and Jerry's ice cream, slices of caramel apple cheesecake, cream scones and pistachio sponge cake with chocolate centers. We ate huge plates of heirloom tomatoes from the garden- everything from the garden, chard, zucchini, cucumbers. We drank coffee and wine and Vermont beer and margaritas with crushed salt on the rim of the pint glass. And he was only here for two days.Seth told me that as he spun through North Dakota and the Upper Peninsula into Canada, he craved one thing -okay actually he probably craved many things but this was one of them- jumping off of high places into water. And after he got to Ottawa and saw an exhibit of elaborately balanced rocks by the river, he got it in his head that he wanted to stack rocks.

So that's what we did. We swam and balanced rocks on the riverbank, and when it rained we went to the cafe in town and played mancala and read the New York Times.

I took him on a long walk around the land, up to sugar house hill and through the upper field. We talked nonstop for two days and, I don't know, we just had a good time. I really like it when people come and visit me out here. I especially like it when they come hungry.

The house of colors

You have to start somewhere. And I heard this thing, it was on the radio. I was driving on route 14 and I remember my hand moving up and down on the steering wheel thinking it felt soft and alive like somebody's cheek against the back of my hand. How absurd. The program on the radio was about colors. How the blue sleeping pill placebo will put you to sleep but the red one will be ineffective. Variables accounted for, extensive research, significant margins and all that.

It got me thinking about how to make things better by starting with the most basic things.

Maybe it's a little like believing in magic. But I'd rather call it psychology so let's call it that.

When I went to this country:

with these people:

I was really happy. Not always, but most of the time. Variables accounted for, extensive research, significant margins and all that.

There were colors all over the place. Chile is an unreasonably colorful country. When I close my eyes I can remember those colors and being underwater and very little more. But the colors are all encompassing; everything falls inside of them and fits.

I am sitting here thinking about being an adult in America, and how it means streamlining your wardrobe into black and grey, professional and serious. Wobbling between rooms that are cream and eggshell, shades of beige all polite and understated. Graffiti grows like unwanted weeds on the walls in the city as you kick away the pieces of creativity in your head to make room for all the quantitative that must take up residence.

I am thinking about what it means to be an adult. It means doing things with a person and then pretending that it never happened. When you are a teenager you are utterly incapable of this. In college you are figuring it out, trying to master this skill and it hurts like hell. And you know when you are an adult, because you really can pretend that nothing happened. You don't even really have to pretend. Because you really feel nothing.

Think back to the blue that put you to sleep and the red that leaves you kicking at your sheets. I'm moving North soon to a place where my score at the present moment is as such:

friends: 0
job: 0
place to live: 0

This I've never done before. I've always had at least one of these things, why else would you move somewhere?

I'm moving North with an accumulated score of: 0. And fall has already come, fall is bedazzling but brief. And when autumn is over, winter side steps in, and winter is white. White and black, and that's the good part of winter. The rest is just grey, the color of ash on snow. I'm worried about myself living in this:

And I'm asking you what to do. Paint the walls of my house the color of tropical fruit, pay extra attention to the color of bedsheets which will either put me to sleep or keep me awake, or better yet attract people to my bed or repel them, not that I'm ready to deal with that yet. Should I wear only jewel tones and drape myself in scarves and beads, and constantly keep the music on and every day wake up with the goal set firmly in my mind that I will keep the driveway cleared of snow, and brush away the powder from the road signs, and get on with it?

Or should I just give in, be white for a season, disappear into the center of the zero, the alabaster of rural snow.

I don't know what will help and what won't. What is worth the effort because after all, we only have so much. What do you think. And where are you going to be, this winter?

A sweet country tale

Ah, I love when life writes itself. The woman who f-bombed me for legally and safely parking in my hometown on the way to the balloon festival added depth to what was otherwise a one dimensional day of festivities and local culture. A needed reminder that life, despite its tendency to appear chummy and affable, is always out to get you.

I was out for a paddle at Sumner's Falls in Hartland, Vermont with my two friends Cassie and Austin. It was a low water, reasonably uneventful day, the waves curled just enough for surfing. Two fishermen built fires on the beach alongside the eddy, and the smoke mingled with the metallic tang of churning water. Eventually we'd run all the rapids and ended up beneath them in the wide, flat calm of the open Connecticut. Instead of bothering to walk back up, we tooled around the rest of the afternoon, talking about how lucky we were to be born in this state, in this place, next to this river.

Then we hiked back up to the beach and discovered that Austin's car had been vandalized. The passenger side windows were smashed out and little cubes of of aqua colored safety glass were everywhere. His wallet was among the missing. My heart swam into my large intestine as I jogged over to my car, and sure enough I hadn't been spared. My window was as wide and gaping as The Scream. I tiptoed through the glass, immediately cut open my thumb, and took a tally of everything that was missing. Which, somehow, was nothing.

Nothing! I had not yet cleaned out my car from my recent move, and apparently the clutter just overwhelmed the perps! One more salute to the unbelievable messiness that is my way of life! Their one attempt at digging deeper had been to open the sunglasses holder above the driver's seat. Please- I had lost my sunglasses weeks before. Had they known anything about online gear re-sales, they could have made a fortune in Kokatat and quick draws. And had they known anything about the places normal people stash their Ipods and wallets when they leave a car in an sketchy spot, they could have been up four dollar bills and a lot of Southern grocery store savings cards. And an Ipod.

Really, for all the fuss, all they did was smash the window and put a sizable dent in my dreamy ideals about New England. And, my insurance didn't cover it one red cent. On the plus side, I finally learned what a deductible is.

The silvery lining of all this, is that it gave us the opportunity to mingle with the local fishermen. We offered them Jelly Beans in a gesture of friendship and, I'm pleased to say, the following photo is not staged:

The little one is named Tim and the big one is named Bubba- thank you Lord I've finally met a Bubba. We asked if they'd seen anything, and they hadn't, but they sure told us a lot of other things. Tim had an autistic savant like approach to conversation: he told us every fact and statistic there was to know about Sumner's falls. How more people drown there than they should. The human sized fish that swam way below the surface, and the monstery things that were occasionally spotted sunning themselves. He recounted with particular fondness the story of a crazy man that held three canoeists at gunpoint, completely nude. This, he said, making a sweeping gesture with his hand, was a dangerous place of outlaws and rogue activity.

"My God," I said, toeing at a chunk of window, "I had no idea. Me and Cass were planning on coming out here alone the other night to paddle in the full moon."

"Woah- hay! Nevah come out here alone!" said Bubba, speaking for the first time. "I don't evah come out here without a shotgun. I tells ya- I got one right here in the cah." He tilted his chin at the beat up truck, and I noticed the outline of a teenage boy, hunched in the backseat like a big insect. "And nevah-" he continued, "come out here in the full moon. Indian ghosts. Bands of them. I ain't kidding yah. I see them, I see them come out here in their birch bahk canoes-"

Tim interupted. "Yup, and I see'd them lanterns floating out there, I was with my wife and she says, she says to me that looks like a birch bahk canoe and I says, let's just get outa here!"

And so it went. In case you are wondering, Tim and Bubba did not appear the type to bother making up stories. They seemed completely true to their word, and I believe them. The naked man and the man eating fish and the Indian ghosts, I believe it all. I'm just upset that I have to be thinking about all these things whenever I go paddling again. With my luck and limited skill set there's already enough to worry about.

Austin had to call four different numbers before reaching the local police, who, as it turned out, had no idea where Sumner's falls was. They didn't bother coming down for the occasion, just gave us each a case number and called it a day. I tacked up a garbage bag on the window until the glass was replaced, and eventually I vacuumed up the rest of the evidence. The only thing we're still chewing on is- why us? Why our two cars when their was a fancy shmancy lincoln deal with out of state plates parked right there with us? My only guess is that they were targeting the kayakers. The haughty, hippy, stir up the water and scare the fish kayakers. And I guess I understand. There have a few times when I've had the urge to smash out a few windows, but I don't have the coconuts.

The obvious question now is this: who is coming with me to investigate on the next full moon? Bubba says that the beat of the ghost drums can be heard at the end of the road, so we could probably get away with just a drive by. Who's in?

I'm serious.

Oh Be Joyful

There is a roadside river in Colorado called the Oh Be Joyful. It's excruciatingly difficult to paddle, and apparently a lot of fun. So I've heard. I've never run it and chances are I never will.

Here in Vermont, we are lacking in terms of challenging Whitewater, at least in Windsor County, at least at this point in the season. But what we're missing in hydraulics we make up for in little secrets, like this one:

(And let me just say, this swing has its own history of carnage, generally involving boys, backflips, and foot entanglement.)

I was going to bring this all together by drawing some parallel between the Oh Be Joyful and the joy this rope swing has brought to all bored Vermont kids for the past fifteen years, but my sister, who thinks this blog can get too 'flowery', would fly across the country and slap me across the face.

With just cause, I suppose.

This is what happens, every time the door opens. Every. Time.

Oh hey, didn't see you come in. That's weird, I usually see everything that goes on around here. Well, anyway, hi!. hi hi HI HI HI HI! I'm so glad you're here! Before you came in I was just quietly chewing on my fish chew. I think it's a trout. Not really sure. Hey- since you're here, do you have any interest in rubbing my tummy? I'll just- I'll just roll on my back for you. Oh- oh, you -wow. You are a total natural at this. I know we just met but I feel like I really connect with you, you know? You know? Hey, if it's cool with you I'm just going to roll my eyes back, maybe close them for a So relaxed. This is what it's about, man! I - woah. WOAH. You just moved your foot. You just moved your foot! Were you aware of that? God, I was so totally zoning out till you did that. Hey, look, there's my fish chew! Boy, I love chewing that thing. Did I mention that when I get it right, the tongue sticks out? It's totally cool. Here, let me....let me just try and make that happen for you...gotta get up on my feet for this. Chew chew chew chew chew chew chew. Hey- woah! It squeaked! Did you hear that? Did you even HEAR that? Sometimes I forget that happens and then it's like- woah! Hey! Is this thing alive? Well, okay, I'm not making the tongue stick out...maybe do you want to try that tummy rub thing again? This time if you could just be really still, yeah, yeah, thanks. Perfect. Oh, wow, now I'm really happy and WOAH! WOAH! THE DOOR! THE DOOR JUST OPENED! IT DID I HEARD IT! Don't be alarmed but - Woah! I gotta GO I gotta go SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING. I gotta BARK I gotta Bark LOUD. Don't go anywhere, I'll be right back or, you know- maybe I won't. The DOOR OPENED it could be ANYTHING!

This post dedicated to Abby Crahan's dog, Jack.


I thought it would hurt more than this, the restructuring. The way life bends to reform itself after its very frame has been altered. I thought the simple things I do for my own contentedness and comfort would begin to feel thin and transparent, as they stretch tight to cover the hole left by a sudden absence. I lost a good man from my life, and with him all my sketches for that particular future I had- briefly, but fiercely- set my heart on.

But it hasn't been that way, not even after the dust settled. Instead, all the different pieces of the day feel as if they had been shaped by a master craftsman, each serving its purpose and locking into the next, holding the season together.

I've been alone these last few days on the hill. Alone in the country, which is to say that, should I want, I could sit out in the field and watch the sun whirl above me up for a week straight without seeing another soul. (For anyone who is keeping record, I don't choose to do it this way.)

Sometime last night, the temperature dropped way, way beneath prediction, and I had to climb out of bed, shivering, and pull all the windows shut. All day long, the air held a trace of autumn's snap. It was a fluke which held no promise of lasting, but I could sense the plants were startled.

The cold was a welcome respite for me. I spent the day pleasantly alone, busy each moment with things that needed to get done. I felt not a whisper of the bitter side of solitude, but in the evening, I made a point to escape the big old house, should sadness seep in along with the cold drafts that appear like ghosts from the doors and window and out from between the wood slats of the floor.

I drove to a place in town that has a big open fire inside, and pint glasses of beer, and the sounds of people eating and drinking and talking.

The gray clouds that gathered thick overhead were tinged on their underbellies with a shade of magenta of unseasonable boldness, but they blew past or dissolved before the last bit of light had disappeared, leaving the sky a clean, electric blue. I ate a warm bowl of warm tomato and cheddar cheese soup, and in the circle of lamplight on my small table, read from a hardcover book of humor writing from The New Yorker.

If there is one hour has the potential to strike me with nostalgia and sadness, it is the time when evening melts into night, a time I've always considered designed for a person to come home to find the lights on, and dinner being cooked, and someone waiting for them. But at that moment, alone with the warmth of the flames from the big iron fireplace, I felt lucky. Lucky, and fed, and nothing else.

little Italian men and my first taste of obsession

It's a strange and funny thing to spend time with the people who knew you before you had fully mastered yourself. Back when you were in high school, or younger, just bits and pieces of a self waiting to be colored and trimmed and sewn together. I remember that time with vividness, when I swapped out one identity for the next with the regularity of movie stars changing their hair, or their husbands.

Many of my old friends have come home for good, and we sit now at the cafe in town town and look back on ourselves in those younger days. We talk about the things we struggled over, the things we fought for and failed at, the things we admit now might not be worth repeating. We reflect not with remorse or embarrassment, but with humor, and fondness, as if our younger selves were merely little dolls who did outlandish things for the purpose of causing ourselves laughter and disbelief in later years.

I had dinner the other night with two of those friends Cass and Elissa- both writers- we closed the restaurant, drank a bucket's worth of two dollar margaritas, scribbled on the table and arrived at the conclusion that these stories we were sharing screamed out to be written down. Small stories, and at first glance insignificant, yet we've come to realize that what separated us in our adolescence are, like it or not, the very things that define who we've come to be.Growing up in someplace like rural Vermont, our stories revolved around the elaborate schemes we came up with to entertain ourselves. I lived (and live currently) in the middle of a land trust, miles away from anyone or anything except the three summer houses of any aunts and uncles, all vacant the majority of the year. Whenever my parents agreed to drive me and my sister into Quechee to get a candy bar at the Jiffy Mart, I would fall into fits of nearly epileptic glee.

I was not often lonely in the negative sense of the word, it's just that I was fully aware of the community that we were lacking- community in the classic, neat squares of front lawn where neighbor children play sense of the word. We're so far out that no one will actually claim us. Half of our dirt road is in West Harford, our mailing address is White River Junction, the closest town is Quechee, we went to school in Woodstock, and we're technically in North Pomfret. When it came time to plow our roads, they all dismissed us as belonging to somebody else.

From all of my unusual and creative endeavors, my arsenal against the many slow hours of childhood, this very small, admittedly peculiar detail stands out: my obsession with Nintendo. And my desperate attempt at compensation for there being no Nintendo.

We've never had television in my house in Vermont (movies, yes) and we certainly did not have any video games. The no TV I was at peace with, and had in fact already developed an attitude of slight superiority with regards to it. But as a ten year old, I was ready to mutiny on account of the video games. I fantasized about throwing myself on the stoop of any house that I knew had a Nintendo system, and begging for them to take me! Just take me in! Make me yours!

I was rabid for any device that could allow me to wile away in the hour in a gaming induced stupor: game boy, game gear, duck hunt, even Tetris would have been better than nothing. I blame my cousin Christopher, whose vast collection of electronic games was constantly replenished as new models came out. He exposed me to the stuff and then withheld: allowing me brief access during holidays at his summer house, and then bringing it all home with him when he left. I met Yoshi the green dino on their big screen TV one Christmas, and fell instantly in love. I dreamed about Yoshi. I dreamed about all of them: the Italians, the hedgehog, the ducks, the mismatched pieces of brick.

On a few occasions, I came close. So, so very close. Christopher promised me one summer to let me borrow his older version of Nintendo, but every time he visited, he had neglected to bring it. Such was my disappointment that that summer, I believe it permanently whittled away at my girlhood spirit.

Then there was that shining moment- one of the most ecstatic in remembrance- when the daughter of my mother's friend left her Game Gear at my house. They had just hit the road back to Boston after a long weekend, I walked into my bedroom, and there it was, lying alone on my bed. Feeling religious in my joy and gratitude, I lay down next to it, took it in my two hands, and turned the ON switch.

One of my most despondent moments was when, ten minutes later, they drove back to retrieve it. "Close one!" her dad said to my mom, jauntily. "Five more minutes, and we would have been too far to turn back!"


Fortunately, I was a do it yourself kind of kid. I could always be counted on to take matters into my own hands, even when it yielded pathetic results. One summer day when I was eleven I was woken by my own brilliant idea- of course! Why hadn't I thought of this before! I ran downstairs in my shortie pajamas, rolled out some butcher paper, and with colored pencils and intent focus, drew out the entire first level of Mario brothers. Green mushroom trees, puffy clouds, neat rows of brick boxes and question marks. Then I sketched a little Mario, cut him out, and bopped him along the drawn out landscape. I repeated this a few times, before it finally dawned on me how sad I was.

Still, A for effort.

Looking back on it, my not so super Mario world was the beginning of a long and illustrious career of faking it till I made it. Which is just another way of saying "make it work with what you got". Still others might call it "lying". I myself consider it a tool of immeasurable value, a combination of improv and resourcefulness. It's what makes one scrappy.

When I was sixteen, 8 months and one terrifying driver's ed class held in the vacant building next to the strip club away from getting my license, I hijacked the family Subaru. I drove it at twenty miles an hour towards the rope swing, a popular warm weather hang out that, at only six miles from my house, was practically in my backyard. (We live a long, long way from anywhere.) My hands sweating and my heart banging at the thrill of my own daring, I inched past the roadside swing. Thank you God, I remember thinking, because there on the riverbank stood John Maguire and some other popular boys, taking turns doing back flips off the rope. I put my elbow out the window, put the car in neutral as I had practiced, and said all casual, "Oh, heeey." Look at me, just driving past. Just driving, alone. No parents. Just driving. And they said "Oh, heeey," and nodded in appreciation. I drove past them. Then I drove home, mission completed.

I was also the girl who, for a few months in 10th grade, kept Visine and a lighter in her jacket pocket. Even though I had no need for them, as I never smoked pot. Ever. But I figured, hey, who has to know that? By then I knew that a suggestion of coolness was as valuable as coolness itself. And it worked. A friend of mine eventually put my jacket on, put his hand in the pockets and drew out my two props. "Heeeey!" he said knowingly, "I wonder what these are for!" I just shrugged and said, "Well, you know." Later that day I threw them in the trash, no longer needing their services.

I blame the success of these foils on any and all incidents of exaggeration or misrepresentation that have occurred since.

The truth is, I figured everyone had a little of this in them. A little resourceful A little scrappiness. A little do what you gotta do.

And then I moved out to Seattle, and my total and complete misjudgment became evident.

The day we ate everything

I'm recording these days not because they are particularly thrilling, but because they are blissful in their normalcy. In a week or two, I'll be starting another job, this time at a camp in New England leading girls on an adventure trip. A solid month of climbing, backpacking, and white water with no electricity, and no showers except the ones we find ourselves- under waterfalls, in creeks, in the Atlantic. So many things draw me to this job, including,'s girls. ALL GIRLS. It's only me and another woman leading the trip, and it includes a 50 mile sea kayak voyage through Acadia national park in Maine out to some island where, last year, there was an epic thunderstorm that had everyone scrambling for their hides. (Oh please oh please oh please....let's have a repeat....) Besides which, it culminates in a rock star paycheck. (Rock star being a very relative term, but I'm happy with it. Very happy with it.)

And after that, I haven't quite decided. Maybe I'll be packing for Chile again, and then Africa with the school, or maybe tracing a red line on an atlas from my doorstep back to the Emerald city, where I feel like life may not quite have been over for me. Either way, the days and nights and mornings and evenings in our sublime state are so fleeting I can almost see them melting away in front of me.

What this means is, while these things may be ordinary, they are not to be taken for granted, and so I will record them with the same fastidiousness and gratitude that I would my highest adventure.

It started with pancakes that Cass and I cooked from scratch, the morning after the storm, the atmosphere polished and the birds still timid from the previous night's violence.

And after all that was finished, it was (way) past noon, and sunlight bounced straight down to earth like a plumb line. Pablo Neruda wrote of the Chilean Coast: "Among so many blues, sunken blues, heavenly blues, our eyes are a little confused." If only he had seen Vermont during this season. What the beaches of Pichilemu have in blues, we have in greens. The endless shades of sea foam and lime and grass and leaf and mint, stripes of bright green on the horizon darkening and fading into would have put him into a tailspin.

Even the water is green right now....and that's where we spent the majority of the day. Sumner's Falls in Hartland, Vermont, is like a piece of the Ottawa River- one side an enormous eddy, the other a set of rapids with different play waves, rapids, and even little creek lines. It's like someone designed a whitewater park and carved it into the Connecticut river, just down the road from me.

(Thanks Austin Huck for this picture!)

When the sunlight deepened from translucent into rich and tangible, we stripped off our wet gear and had bread and cheddar and ginger beer in the back of the car. Then we drove into Woodstock, through Hartland and Quechee, farms and fields drenched in amber light, music blaring, and capped it off with onion rings and fried chicken and grilled cheese at The White Cottage. Which we capped off with ice cream- my peppermint stick hot fudge sunday beating the crap out of Cassie's cookies and cream. (I've been ordering those at The Cottage for about 17 years now.)

Out of nowhere, a horde of little girls appeared by our side and threw the ball for my dog for an hour straight into the White River, ecstatic over the fact that she could swim. (And I was ecstatic to discover she has a perfect ferry angle to swim upstream....although later Austin told me that humans are the only species who do not have a naturally perfect ferry angle...)

And then, yeah, we capped all that off with jack and gingers at the one bar in town with our friend Adriane. And then some wine at home, animated conversation at the kicthen table until 2:00am, and then we passed out on the cold sheets, falling backwards into dreams.

That's was The Day We Ate Everything. And we'll do it again just as soon as we get the chance.


I wasn't back in New England but two days when Cassie, my best friend from middle school, came up to visit. We took it upon ourselves to partake in all that is wild and lovely about our state, and what unfolded was a string of the most heavenly early summer days that ever were. We threw ourselves headlong into the liquid, lime green days and never for a moment sat to rest, except for at night, when we shared a bottle of white wine on the screened in porch and told stories with increasingly volume and gesturing.

On her first evening, we took the dogs down to the big iron bridge that crosses the white river
in the town of West Hartford. The evening was sweltering, and we went swimming in the deep green water, swam up to the little ledge hole and rode the white current down to the bottom of the eddy. We wore our PFDs so that we could exude the least amount of effort possible, just lean back in the water and float. A group of white water kayakers showed up at one point, and an older man and his little boy offered to let the two of us go surfing with his tandem boat. They waited on the rocks, the little boy throwing the ball into the water for my dog and calling her back with an amazingly endearing lisp, as we leaned too far into the current and toppled over, swimming in a mass of arms and legs and paddles into the rocks lining the shallow hole.

It fell dark, and soon we were back on the screen porch, wrapped in sweatshirts and eating a plate of tomatoes and vinegar for dinner with pieces of bread our friend gives us free from his bakery. It grew late quickly as we talked and compared notes about the most recent chapters of our lives. We had planned on watching an episode of The Office before bed, but the world had some much different in store for the night's entertainment. I went downstairs to serve two bowls of peach ice cream, and when I came back up, lightning was flashing on the horizon. At first we attributed it to heat lightning, the atmosphere swelling with the humidity until it couldn't take it anymore and burst in flashes of white light, but soon enough enormous cracks of thunder split the sky and the air cooled and became heavy.

Cassie is a graphic designer, and photographer, and married to a professional photographer, and so she understood when my first impulse was to grab my camera and set up the tripod in the front yard, hoping to finally catch an elusive fork of lightning on film. She came with me outside and held an over sized sunhat above the camera to guard against the rain, which fell in big drops like marbles. The lightning came in two styles, in flashes and strikes, and when we caught a strike the two of went mad with excitement.

Somehow, the storm lasted more than two hours, and even when it became wild and wrapped around us, we stood in the eye of the storm and held the shutter down over and over again.
And it was just our first day.